Gun Owners Speak Out About Weapon Laws

Since Monday's massacre at Virginia Tech, there's been a lot of talk about the leniency of Virginia's gun laws. But nationwide, the federal law is the same.

Anyone who buys a gun has to pass an instant background check before they can purchase a weapon. The gun retailer calls the F.B.I. while the customer is in the store and that potential gun buyer is either approved or denied on the spot, or they'll have to wait a little longer for clearance.

Bill Pate, owner of Bill's Gun Trader, said, "On a delayed transaction, you have basically three working days for them to come back to you and say 'okay, that's now cleared' or 'it's denied'. If it's denied they don't get the gun, if it's cleared we call them they can come get the gun."

The shooting in Virginia happened hundreds of miles away from East Texas, but many local gun owners are expecting increased attention on gun availability.

Scott Wilcox owns Cycle Heaven, a motorcycle ministry in Lufkin, but like a lot of Texans, he has a gun collection and shoots recreationally.

"We ride for Jesus, we live for Jesus, we tell people about Jesus, that's what we do," said Wilcox. "But I also have several guns that I shoot from time to time. You want to stay in practice. You have them, you want to use them and that doesn't make me a bad person nor does it mean I'm going to commit a crime."

Even with a waiting period, background check, and strict policies in place concerning gun laws, there is no definite way to keep weapons from being misused. It will always be possible for criminals to get a gun.

"But not from a dealer," said Pate. "There's guns for sale everywhere."

Background checks usually do not reveal a history of mental illness, but gun retailers do inquire about mental history on the paperwork their customers must fill out before they can purchase a weapon.